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'Never Say Never Again' actor Bernie Casey to exhibit artwork

06-Jun-2010 • Actor News

When Bernie Casey was growing up in Columbus, Ohio, in the 1940s and 50s, “a young colored kid becoming an artist was absurd to people at the time,” he said.

That was not something black people did, it seemed at the time, Casey said. So, he kept his dream of being an artist to himself and didn’t mention it until he was poised to go to college, reports MLive.

Still, his father didn’t understand his dream and his coaches at Bowling Green State University, where he had a football scholarship, were also taken aback by it. But Casey persisted and earned a degree in fine arts.

“I was able to resist putting myself in a box,” Casey, 70, said by phone from his home in Los Angeles.

An exhibition of Casey’s artwork, titled “People That I Know,” begins today at the Black Arts & Cultural Center in downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA, as part of the expanded Art Hop and runs through June 25.

Casey’s story involves a passion to create art that lasted through careers in professional football and in film and television. He was in 54 movies and is now retired from film, but has maintained his career as an artist and is working on a new series of paintings.

Casey agreed to arrange for a showing of his recent works at the BACC, in part, to show young people here that, “black people can become successful at this and not just be hobbyists,” he said.

He said he believes black people have been so filled with negative stereotypes about themselves that, “we have a self-inflicting mechanism that intimidates us when we step up to be something.”

Somehow, Casey was different growing up.

“I knew that all things are possible,” he said about his early days as a fine arts student. “It’s just that some things are very difficult. There were other artists at small black colleges who were struggling mightily. I looked them up and was not deterred.”

As he looked back on his film career, Casey said, he was able to sink his acting chops into the film “Brothers,” (1977) about convict George Jackson, who fell in love with Angela Davis.

Casey’s said his most enjoyable film was the James Bond movie “Never Say Never Again” (1983), in which he played a CIA agent who helped Bond. He described it as a “big film” with lots of “big hotels and limos.” A producer “wasn’t fond” of his character being black, but the issue was worked out, Casey said.

Casey said that at this time of his life, some days he may have speaking engagements, others he may have more time to himself. But, no matter what, he tries to make time to look out a window and think about the world. That is especially important to an artist, he said.

Casey’s works of acrylic on canvas will be on display in the Gail Sydnor Gallery of the Black Arts & Cultural Center, located in the Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, MI, USA.

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